Barnes & Noble

I love Barnes & Noble bookstores. I've always loved reading and find a lot of things interesting so when I walk into a good library or a Barnes & Noble, a kind of excited peace infuses my soul. Surrounded by so many books on so many subjects, all is right in my little piece of the world. I wish I was a sponge and could just roll down the aisles soaking up all the words. I can spend hours and hours there in perfect contentment. Sometimes I bring my laptop with me so I can look up stuff I find interesting in the books and magazines, bookmarking sites to come back to later. A cup or two of Starbucks coffee, a piece of chocolate or strawberry swirl cheesecake, a selection of books and magazines around me, an internet connection, and I'm a happy camper. High maintenance I am not.

Fortunately, my wife and youngest daughter enjoy doing this also and it has become an unofficial ritual we do every 4 - 6 weeks. There's an Olive Garden across the street from our nearest Barnes & Noble so on a Saturday afternoon, we supper at Olive Garden then head to the bookstore for about 3 hours. The only challenge is seating (I consider it a sport actually). There are several electrical outlets in the Starbucks seating area, but they are all located on one wall behind 4 tables which, of course, means those tables are a premium for folks like my wife and youngest daughter who almost always bring their laptops. For me, usually sans laptop, it's still a primo spot because they face outward toward the store, making them perfect people watching perches, another activity I enjoy. So the first thing we do is head over to the tables to snag one of the electrical outlets. If they are occupied, we stake our claim on the nearest available table. We then take turns browsing the aisles, always leaving at least one of us to keep watch on the wall tables. That way, when someone abandons one of those coveted spots, we pounce and homestead it for the duration. I'm still fairly quick so usually there's no problem beating out the other people waiting on a wall table. Well, there was this one time when an old woman in a wheelchair came rolling by me just as a table opened up. The nice guy in me waited for her to get by because I thought she was just going down the aisle, but then that crafty she-devil made an abrupt turn and headed straight for the table. No problem. I just quickly stuck my foot out behind her and engaged the wheelchair brakes. Stopped her dead in her tracks and before she figured it out, I was sitting down at the wall table smiling at her.

Now don't go thinking we're a bunch of freeloaders getting our reading fix for free. In addition to the coffee and food we buy, we always end up purchasing numerous books and a few magazines or some other odds and ends. And then there's the B&N gift cards we give our book-loving friends and family members at Christmas and other occasions.  It's rare for us to get out of there without dropping a minimum of $50 - $100. I consider it a rather cheap, but fun family night out. There's a book bag I've seen in there with writing on the front that I really like - "I spend my money on books and if there's any left, I buy food and clothes." If it weren't for little things like my family and bills, that would be me.

And if you must know, that crafty old lady in the wheelchair cutting in front of me? Well, it didn't really happen. I made that up. Literary creative license. But I wouldn't say I wouldn't. It's a jungle out there, you know.